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Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2003

LIFELINES

Frustration with ISPs and keitai spam


ISP trouble

On the subject of ISPs, I also was billed about 100,000 yen by my Internet Service Provider. The salesperson explained the contract to me in broken English as I cannot read Japanese. I was told I had to sign now, I couldn't take the contract away, have someone explain it to me and bring it back later.

He also told me the free period was for 3 months, although my contract was actually only for two months. Indeed, the only thing that was made clear to me was that I had to sign there and then. If they really wanted to make it clear, they could provide a written explanation in English about the contract.

Also, when I contacted the ISP to organize a payment plan they said no. I had to pay at the convenience store.

Is there any consumer protection agency in this country that can help people like me in situations like this?

It is unclear what ISP you have signed up for so we cannot help you specifically but as you would vs. experience anywhere in the world salespeople are always pushing for a sales. You never have to "sign now" and you have a right to see a contract in English.

All major ISPs let you pay by credit card. You have already paid so there's nothing we can do, but in the future please never sign something you do not understand, never pay anything you do not agree with and never pay for service you are not satisfied with. Do any of our readers have similar stories?

Cell phone trouble

My J-phone cell phone has been bombarded by "meiwaku meiru," those annoying and usually offensive junk e-mailings. I've tried blocking them in two ways: by blocking all messages except approved ones, and by entering the offenders to specifically block them. Neither method has worked.

Some of the offending mails even give my phone e-mail address as the source, which, of course, is impossible. I haven't complained to J-Phone yet, because I'd like to have the leverage of taking my complaint to a consumer protection group. I know Japan lags in this area, but do you know who I might complain to if the cell phone company proves unresponsive?

Ideally, I'd like to cancel my mail service altogether, and I want to do this without the cell phone company coming at me for cancellation changes.

Please contact J-phone, or Vodaphone as it's now called. They have a very good system in place. The company itself is now foreign-owned and extremely responsive to subscribers' concerns, particularly those of foreign residents who may have difficulty understanding the nuts and bolts of Japan's keitai system.

They will help you put together a program to stop any unwanted e-mail.

Please give them a call. Let them put in the anti-"meiwaku" mail system before you cancel your contract.

Have any more of our readers had similar problems?

Ken Joseph Jr. directs The Japan Helpline at www.jhelp.com or (0570) 000-911 Send your queries, questions, problems and posers, to: lifelines@japantimes.co.jp


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